(138) Michael Nastos, All Music Guide -- June, 2008

The inventive bassist/composer Todd Sickafoose has been plying his trade as a sideman while occasionally venturing forth as a bandleader in the progressive jazz world. With Tiny Resistors, he's hitting for a high average in presenting original music with a dramatic flair while playing not just the bass. Overdubbing keyboards, accordion, mallet instruments and the electric bass guitar, he orchestrates charts with many layers for a large ensemble that features electric guitars, brass and some woodwinds. Special guests Andrew Bird and Ani DiFranco play cameo roles, while the dynamic drummer Allison Miller focuses on tricky rhythms - rock and funk - to drive these pieces along bumpy hillsides. A walking to jogging pace, serious to whimsical, identifies "Future Flora" (great title!) as the amplified guitars of Adam Levy and Mike Gamble with Sickafoose on the Wurlitzer organ shush along with Miller and the horns of trumpeter Shane Endsley and trombonist Alan Ferber in 10/8 rhythm. A rustic old New Orleans blues rhythm centers the muted brass during "Paper Trombones," a bit dour and holding a mystery train like aura, with the vibes and bass playing of the leader conducting the trip. A wonderfully spacious intro with minimalist bells, vibes and celeste overdubs turns probing, moving forward into dense terrain on the title selection, with Miller's busy drumming as a fulcrum. The pieces "Bye Bye Bees" and "Pianos Of The Ninth Ward" with both Bird (violin) and DiFranco (wordless vocals) have a polyrhythmic base with handclapping, whistling and song sounds in tandem with the horns, or a somber post-Katrina waltz with Sickafoose on piano, the guitars, and an electric ukulele from DiFranco respectively. Bird also plays some country and eastern styled violin for the heartland Americana stylized "Cloud Of Dust." Also along this line of far east/far west dialect comparable to Bill Frisell is the rural feeling of "Whistle" with Sickafoose again on piano, or the very Midwestern "Everyone Is Going." Closest to rock in 7/8 time is "Invisible Ink, Revealed," on the craggy, heavy and darker edge of an inevitable unquiet storm. This is quite an ambitious project from Sickafoose. Considering his need to play many instruments while guiding the talented group through a variety of changes and phases, you would be hard pressed to fully realize the effort to took to make this music perfect. It's very close to complete, universally appealing, and unique unto itself. - by Michael Nastos

Michael Nastos
All Music Guide
June, 2008